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United States Games Your Rights Online

Video Games As Propaganda 251

SharkLaser writes "A video game developer working for Kuma Reality Games has admitted that the company has been receiving money from the CIA to design and freely distribute special movies and games with the aim of manipulating public opinion in the Middle East. Amir Mizra Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine, moved to work for Kuma after working for DARPA and has said the goal of the company was to convince people that whatever the U.S. does in other countries is a good measure. Kuma officials have declined to comment, while Hekmati himself is locked in Iran. The United States government has demanded the release of Hekmati, but Iran has sentenced him to death for spying, which he confessed to."
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Video Games As Propaganda

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  • Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jd ( 1658 ) < minus city> on Monday January 09, 2012 @05:39PM (#38642488) Homepage Journal sympathetic as I am to the guy, since he was there to see his grandmother, he's going to have a hell of a time persuading anyone he was not working for the CIA if indeed the CIA was funding the company he worked for, and that he was aware the company was involved in psy ops*. Doesn't matter if the company wasn't part of the CIA, we know the CIA runs companies as fronts (from previous CIA scandals) and since the CIA would have to be incredibly stupid to reveal all the companies that were fronts.

    Iran, therefore, is in a difficult position. The guy is essentially being paid CIA money for carrying out CIA-commissioned tasks, which is not going to go down well there no matter what. Psy ops also require some form of feedback - you can't manipulate in a vaccuum, which is a major factor in North Korea's isolation - and that means feet on the ground at some point. It must have been obvious to everyone involved (except for the poor guy involved) as to what would happen next.

    I honestly doubt he really is a spy, they're generally not stupid enough to be that obvious, but I do believe he's "collateral damage" that the US considers wholly acceptable for intelligence-gathering purposes.**

    *Manipulating the perception of another, rather than giving them information and free choice, is a "psychological operation" of the kind believed to be used in covert ops. Doesn't matter if it's merely the opinion of a boss or the opinion of a sponsor that's being expressed, with no military or intelligence involvement at all, it is still a psy op because it is still about manipulation and not choice. Had I not put in an explanation, but relied entirely on emotive description, that would also be psy op/manipulation. Because I am stating what is meant and why the choice of words, there is information and therefore freedom of choice and therefore it is not manipulative.

    **Intelligence gathering will always involve collateral damage. You can't avoid it. Totally innocent people will inevitably be sacrificed, which is why this idea that you control your destiny is such a laugh. All nations gather intelligence from all nations (themselves as much as anyone else), all nations need to at this point in history, and therefore all nations will have wholly innocent victims. The British have been investigating a whole host of scandals and "collateral damage" from internal investigation by the police recently, after a couple of undercover operatives defected to the organizations they were spying on and blew the lid on some very shady dealings.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday January 09, 2012 @05:44PM (#38642582)

    If you had bothered to look at their wikipedia entry [], you would see that Kuma Reality Games suddenly took a turn a couple of years ago, designing Middle Eastern-oriented games in Arabic exclusively. You'll also see that these new games focus on things like fighting "political corruption." Seems to strongly bolster his confession. The CIA has done stuff like this for decades, of course. IIRC they even did special comic books back in the 60's with anti-Russkie propaganda that they spread behind the iron curtain.

    Unfortunately, this kid decided to go into field operations too. And Iran is hunting down CIA and Mossad operatives pretty hard right now (probably pissed about all those dead nuclear scientists). I suspect the death sentence is just a bargaining ploy for Iran, though. I hope they don't actually execute him.

  • yeah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @06:03PM (#38642848) Homepage Journal
    we see how well it is working for israel. if not for the inordinate amounts of american taxpayers' money they have been gulping since their founding, they would have been overrun by 10-12 nations decades ago.

    stupidity. priceless.
  • by raehl ( 609729 ) <raehl311@yahoo.GAUSScom minus math_god> on Monday January 09, 2012 @06:08PM (#38642948) Homepage

    If he's the kind of spy who is paid by the CIA to create and distribute propaganda material (in this case, video games) to subvert a country's government, that might be exactly the kind of spy who doesn't get much interrogation training.

    Is the person stationed at a US Embassy abroad who goes to all the elite social dinners with various parties of state and covertly sends intel reports back to the CIA a spy? Most would say yes.

    Is the Iranian former-marine helping develop propaganda for Iranian consumption under contract with the CIA a spy?

    I don't think you'd say he's definitely NOT a spy...

    Death seems a bit extreme however. Deportation would seem more appropriate. And hopefully this is all just a bunch of diplomatic posturing and deportation in exchange for some other consideration is what this comes out to.

  • Of course it is torture. Indeed, that was part of the basis of the appeals by the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four. The fraudulent "confessions" sealed the fate of the prosecution's case (the statements were shown to have been tampered with afterwards with the signatures of the defendants edited in) but the courts were utterly horrified by the police treatment - which was no different from what you're describing.

    Indeed, even in a prior appeal that failed, heard by the late Lord Denning, it failed because Lord Denning ruled that torture and abuse on such a scale was too horrific to contemplate, too savage to imagine. And, no, I'm not exaggerating his remarks. He really did say that what you're describing for police behaviour was too horrific to contemplate. Lord Denning naively concluded that it was better to refuse the appeal than to even think about police cruelty. With all respect, I disagree. It is better to imagine the unimaginable so that you can stop it, or - if it's not taking place - then at least be sure that the safeguards exist to ensure it never does.

    Given that torture does take place, I am of the opinion that confessions should never be allowed in court at all. Evidence collected as a result of a confession, sure, but not the confession itself. If the police can't maintain conduct of a standard better than "too horrific to contemplate", then they should not be able to directly use in trial anything that is likely tainted by such conduct. Simple as that. Eliminate the incentive. That should go for any evidence involving methods established to have suspect credibility. Dubious crime labs get the press from time to time, for example. When standards improve, remove the bar. It is the only way you will ever get the police motivated to operate in a clean manner.

  • Re:Eye for an eye.` (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2012 @06:28PM (#38643306)

    Maintaining a healthy economy requires killing to keep industry demand and r&d working at a healthy pace. That is especially important for the American economy, since it is dominated by defense contracting work (inputs and processing, including subcontractors, etc.). Also, keep in mind that the government is similar to a company, except it is much more conservative. Companies are unable to last much longer than 100 years, however, governments have a goal of stability that should last longer than 2-3 generations, but the only type of government bankruptcy is facilitated with war. So wars help to eliminate problematic governments, reducing the competition for natural resources, helping to expand the ruling elite and further suppresses the working class (middle/low classes), which means wars help to maintain order and reduce freedom. In culture that focuses on personal desires, rather than the desires of the community, war just seems like a naturally necessary occurrence to help support the class structure (i.e., the ruling elite).

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle